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Warning that sunscreen may contain toxic chem -

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Warning that sunscreen may contain toxic chemicals

The World Today - Thursday, 18 December , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Nicole Butler

ELEANOR HALL: Half of all Australians will be treated for skin cancer at some stage in their lives
and for most of us, applying sunscreen has become second nature.

But a West Australian toxicologist is warning that some block-outs contain toxic chemicals, as
Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: The sun protection message has been drummed into us - to the point that not applying
sunscreen is almost unthinkable. But environmental toxicologist Peter Dingle is warning some
block-outs are harmful.

PETER DINGLE: Most of the sunscreens we have, have almost a dozen or so synthetic chemicals that
have really been outdated. They were around in the 1950s but we now look at it and we see that a
large number of these ingredients they put in there have potential toxic affects and potentially
when they go out in the sun these toxic effects are magnified many, many times.

NICOLE BUTLER: The associate professor at Murdoch University says the toxic chemicals in some
sunscreens can cause severe, recurring rashes. He says they can also mimic the hormone estrogen in
both women's and men's bodies.

PETER DINGLE: It gets into the blood. It gets into the breast tissue. It gets into the male testes.

NICOLE BUTLER: What's more Dr Dingle says some block-outs can cause more harm than the sun itself.

PETER DINGLE: The third area that these chemicals have really been linked with is, when they absorb
the sun's rays which is what they are supposed to do on the skin, that is great, but when they get
into the skin and into the cells which they can do pretty quickly, they absorb the sun's rays and
can re-emit that energy in a negative way, that can be even worse than the sun's rays.

NICOLE BUTLER: Dr Dingle's claims have the Queensland Cancer Council hopping mad.

Spokeswoman Lisa Norman.

LISA NORMAN: The Cancer Council is really concerned that people are going to stop using sunscreen
and actually increase their risk of skin damage which can lead to skin cancer.

We live in a country that has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. So if people are scared
to wear sunscreen, that is really not a good message.

I mean all sunscreens that are sold in Australia must comply with the Therapeutic Goods
Administration guidelines and Standards Australia.

NICOLE BUTLER: Ms Norman says Dr Dingle's are completely without substance.

LISA NORMAN: There is not one peak health agency in the world including the World Health
Organization that doesn't condone sunscreen use so there really hasn't been any major credible
studies to say that sunscreen is unsafe to use.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Lisa Norman from the Queensland Cancer Council ending that report by Nicole
Butler.